Judge Morton S. Minc

Judge Morton S. Minc has been awarded Québec’s 2014 Prix de la justice award by the Minister of Justice, Stéphanie Vallée, for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of social rehabilitation, victim support and respect for human dignity in the dispensing of justice.

As president judge of the Montréal municipal court, Judge Minc has taken every possible step to facilitate access to justice. He has revitalized existing social programs for both offenders and victims. He has also created new social programs to provide a suitable response to emerging problems in our society, including vagrancy and the mistreatment and abuse of the elderly. He has played a leading role in bringing together judges, lawyers and outside specialists to cooperate on the programs.

Thanks to his tireless work to publicize the innovations introduced at the Montréal municipal court, it has become a source of inspiration for other courts, a research laboratory in the social sciences, and a service provider helping to improve quality of life for Montréal residents.

Morton Minc graduated from Sir George Williams University (later Concordia University) with an arts degree in 1970 and went on to study law at Université de Montréal, despite the challenge of studying in French. While there, he received the Joël-Leduc award as the best student in the field of criminal law.

After passing his bar school examination in 1973, he practised law with a number of private firms, including McCarthy Tétrault, Campbell-Minc, and then Minc and Associates, which he led for 12 years.

During his career as a lawyer, Morton Minc pleaded in courts as far away as the Northwest Territories, and sometimes acted pro bono for impoverished clients.

Alongside his private practice, he furthered his interest in teaching. He contributed to a commercial law course at McGill University, and then lectured on commercial law at Concordia.

In 1993, he was appointed as a judge at the Montréal municipal court. He became a member of the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges and an executive member of the American Judges Association, where he chaired the Therapeutic Justice Committee. In this role he visited a number of courts that were already acting as Problem Solving Courts and became a source of inspiration for his later work at the Montréal municipal court.

In 2003, Morton Minc hosted and organized the annual convention of the American Judges Association, held for the first time in Montréal.

For several consecutive years he sat on judging panels for the Young Bar Association of Montréal and for the mooting competitions at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto (the Gale Cup).

He has participated regularly in the annual round table on participatory justice.

Morton Minc has spoken at numerous national and international conferences, emphasizing his interest in a more accessible and more humane form of justice. He supports a multidisciplinary approach to solving the problems observed in court; in his view, the team of professionals and volunteers that guides the judicial process must refer offenders to social programs and therapy; the courts must be able to offer offenders ongoing supervision, with their consent, to help them combat the causes of their criminal behaviour and avoid the trap of re-offending.

For this reason, Morton Minc supports the social programs made available to offenders with problems relating to alcohol or drug use, mental disorders or vagrancy.

In 2009, Morton Minc was appointed as president judge of the Montréal municipal court and since then, working in a spirit of continuity to achieve his goals, he has improved existing social programs and implemented others.

He spared no effort to ensure that the Montréal CAVAC could set up inside the Montréal municipal courthouse to offer victim services on-site. He persuaded various lawyers’ associations to send one of their members to court each morning to provide free assistance to offenders who were not represented by a lawyer on their first appearance.

In short, Morton Minc has searched out all possible ways and means to improve citizens’ access to justice.

The initiatives of Judge Morton Minc have attracted professionals and academics to his court.

During his term as president judge, he has forged close ties with the faculties of law at Université de Montréal, McGill University and Université de Sherbrooke, where he has participated in courses and seminars in order to make faculty members, researchers and students more aware of the aims and unique practices of his court.

Last, Morton Minc has maintained close ties with the Montréal and Québec bar associations. The municipal court of Montréal is present each year at the Semaine du Barreau event, and the Montréal bar association now offers a training module each year on the social programs of the Montréal municipal court as part of its professional development program.

The 2014 Prix de la justice medal was presented to judge Morton S. Minc by the Minister of Justice, Stéphanie Vallée, accompanied by the President of the Selection Panel, the Honourable Nicole Duval Hesler, Chief Justice of Quebec.

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